Extraterrestrial flux of potentially prebiotic C, N, and P to the early earth

Matthew Pasek, Dante Lauretta

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

62 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

With growing evidence for a heavy bombardment period ending 4-3.8 billion years ago, meteorites and comets may have been an important source of prebiotic carbon, nitrogen, and phosphorus on the early Earth. Life may have originated shortly after the late-heavy bombardment, when concentrations of organic compounds and reactive phosphorus were enough to "kick life into gear". This work quantifies the sources of potentially prebiotic, extraterrestrial C, N, and P and correlates these fluxes with a comparison to total Ir fluxes, and estimates the effect of atmosphere on the survival of material. We find (1) that carbonaceous chondrites were not a good source of organic compounds, but interplanetary dust particles provided a constant, steady flux of organic compounds to the surface of the Earth, (2) extraterrestrial metallic material was much more abundant on the early Earth, and delivered reactive P in the form of phosphide minerals to the Earth's surface, and (3) large impacts provided substantial local enrichments of potentially prebiotic reagents. These results help elucidate the potential role of extraterrestrial matter in the origin of life.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5-21
Number of pages17
JournalOrigins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres
Volume38
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 2008

Fingerprint

Prebiotics
early Earth
prebiotics
Meteoroids
organic compounds
organic compound
Cosmic Dust
phosphorus
bombardment
extraterrestrial matter
phosphides
Phosphorus Compounds
interplanetary dust
carbonaceous chondrites
origin of life
carbonaceous chondrite
Earth surface
meteorites
comets
Atmosphere

Keywords

  • Ammonia
  • Cohenite
  • Meteorite flux
  • Prebiotic material
  • Schreibersite

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Ecology, Evolution, Behavior and Systematics

Cite this

Extraterrestrial flux of potentially prebiotic C, N, and P to the early earth. / Pasek, Matthew; Lauretta, Dante.

In: Origins of Life and Evolution of Biospheres, Vol. 38, No. 1, 02.2008, p. 5-21.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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